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Simon says the judges are real X Factor stars

Simon Cowell has admitted X Factor contestants have not always enjoyed enough of the limelight because they have been overshadowed by the judges.

The TV mogul has filmed auditions for the seventh series of the show, featuring Nicole Scherzinger as guest judge. He said: "Sometimes we have gotten into the habit, and obviously I'm partly responsible for this, of the judges' personalities being talked about more than the contestants.

"The judges are there for their opinions, so for me the most important criteria for sitting on a judging panel is, do you actually know what you are talking about?"

The TV judge warned that sob stories would not help this year's wannabes, saying: "If you've entered because you want to get rich and famous then that's great -- just don't pretend you're doing it in memory of your dead dog. No one is going to believe you."

Meanwhile, Cowell heaped praise on Pussycat Doll Scherzinger, who was at the Manchester auditions. "Nicole seems to have fallen in love with Manchester, and Manchester has fallen in love with her, and Louis [Walsh] has fallen in love with Nicole. I've never seen Louis as happy as he was this weekend. He was like a lamb in springtime and didn't stop smiling.

"Nicole also gave Louis some fashion tips and suggested he dyed his hair."